by Bryan Cohen
Beginner Self-Publishing could be summed up in a sentence or two. Write a book. Visit sites like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords and follow the given steps.
Congratulations! You have matriculated to Advanced Self-Publishing. This is where it gets interesting. There are a ton of self-published books out there but only a few of them do extremely well. There are steps you can follow to improve your chances drastically, but keep in mind that there is no proven formula for this stuff. It’s new and exciting and the sky may be the limit. It also may not be; time will tell.
1. Come up with a good idea
Sexy-vampire-clone-with-a-sultry-cover #75 has a chance of working, but as with any book, a unique idea with a niche offers you a better chance for long-term sales. Even if your idea is not unique, it needs to be extremely well done. If you throw together some underdeveloped characters in an implausible plot with a professional cover, you may find yourself with bad reviews and dropping sales.
2. Create an online community
Many of the successful indie authors like J.A. Konrath and Amanda Hocking have ridiculously popular blogs with many devoted followers. Now, which came first, the blog or the book sales? Konrath’s blog started in 2005, about four years before he self-published his works. Hocking began hers in tandem with work on her first book in 2009. I personally began mine around two years before self-publishing. This is a step that could take years to fully accomplish. Nurturing a community of devoted future readers is not an overnight task. If you don’t have such a website, start it now, because advanced self-publishing is not the hare’s game, it’s the tortoise’s. Start now and you’ll be pleased with the results three years from now and beyond.
3. Promote yourself in a non-annoying manner
Think before you promote yourself. Will a spammy mass e-mail annoy and antagonize your followers? Will that comment on a popular website with the words, “Please read my book,” actually have the opposite effect? Before you promote yourself and your books ask yourself, “If someone else took this step would it annoy me?” In promotion, you need to play it cool like the Fonz. Provide advice and information that is worthwhile to others as you promote. Ask bloggers (nicely) if you can guest post on their websites. Interview other authors on your own site to both spread the love and get their followers to see your site and books. Create a plan and adjust it on the fly but don’t undermine it by acting unprofessionally.
Truth be told, I’ve broken all three of these steps from time to time in the past. Only when I followed them did I find optimum success. I hope to save you the trouble of learning the hard way. Successful self-publishing typically takes a long time, but eventually your growing army of followers will start to buy your book. And slowly but surely, you will pass the spastic hare in book sales.
Bryan Cohen is a writer, actor and comedian from Dresher, Pennsylvania. Since graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill he has written four books (1,000 Creative Writing Prompts: Ideas for Blogs, Scripts, Stories and More, 500 Writing Prompts for Kids: First Grade through Fifth Grade, Sharpening the Pencil: Essays on Writing, Motivation, and Enjoying your Life, and Writer on the Side: How to Write Your Book Around Your 9 to 5 Job), several plays (Something from Nothing and Chekhov Kegstand: A Dorm Room Dramedy in Two Acts) and he was the head writer for an un-produced Web series (Covenant Coffee). His writing and motivation website Build Creative Writing Ideas has had over 100,000 visitors since it was founded in December 2008. He lives in Chicago, Illinois.
Follow Bryan on Twitter @buildcwideas.
Bryan Cohen is giving away 100 personalized writing prompts to one giveaway entrant chosen at random during the blog tour. Personalized prompts are story starters that cater specifically to a writer’s subject matter, strengths/weaknesses, etc. Cohen will create the prompts to cater exclusively to the winner. He is giving away free digital copies of his book The Writing Sampler to everybody who enters, which includes excerpts from each of his four books on writing. The book contains essays, writing prompts and tips and tricks to enhance your writing skills. In addition, for each of Cohen’s books that reach the Top 500 on Amazon during his blog tour, he will add a $50 Amazon gift card to the drawing (up to six $50 cards in total)!
To enter, simply post a comment to this blog post with your e-mail address. Entries will be counted through June 2nd.